Engaging customers has always been a challenge, especially during the holiday season when every business is trying to get the biggest share of the pie. Evolving technology and the dynamic and ever-changing nature of consumer behaviour has opened endless opportunities for businesses. However, gaining a consumer’s attention, especially in saturated markets where competition is high, can still be a monumental task. You need to find ways to cut through the noise if you want to get your brand noticed. From your store management to inventory shipment and checkout experience, a lot goes into the creation of a prosperous retail business.

This is where technology can help you create a comprehensive customer acquisition plan and grab your customer’s attention during what is one of the most important times. While acquiring customers and garnering their attention can sometimes feel like a never-ending process, there are ways to create a robust and sustainable acquisition plan to boost your sales this festive season.

Understand your customer’s habits

Many businesses fail to recognise changing consumer habits and, by failing to do so, are at risk of losing them. What appeals to a customer today, isn’t necessarily what will appeal to them tomorrow. Technology can help your business recognise, easily gather and analyse data, which can be used to understand the nerve of your customers. Take, for example, artificial intelligence. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, are sceptical when it comes to embracing AI, but integrating it into your solutions offers a fast and efficient way to understand your customers’ browsing and shopping habits and identify efficient ways to convert leads into sales.

According to Statista, the average e-commerce store loses over 75% of its sales to cart abandonment, AI can help you understand why, and put in place measures to rectify the problem. It can tell you if your checkout process has too many steps, lacks flexibility or has limited shipping and payment options. Similarly, if you notice a lot of your products are returned, AI can look for patterns in returns and the issues that drive them, like size issues or damages in transit.

Automate and Innovate

When you truly know what your customers want, you end up serving their needs better. You can innovate to cater to their needs and demands, and can do so on their terms. Technology allows you to provide an innovative, personal and user-friendly experience from the time a customer discovers your business, right through to the checkout. One of the ways is to automate your business operations, from creating sales orders to collecting online payments. This will not only help run your entire business seamlessly but will also help you easily tackle the inefficiencies of your team or business processes, customise offerings and still have enough time to focus on other priorities to enhance your company’s productivity and growth.

Keeping them hooked and delighted

As the saying goes: Out of sight, out of mind. It is therefore very important to continuously keep your customers engaged with your business. After all, if they’re not engaging with your business, they could very easily be engaging with a competitor. By making use of regular email marketing to send out deals and products information that might appeal to your customers, you can maintain a steady flow of touchpoints with the people that matter most. This is especially helpful during holiday season sales when you have to stand out amongst a particularly large crowd. Customised campaigns are another way of catching their attention, and software like Zoho CRM helps you create targeted campaigns based on customers’ purchase history, feedback, geography and previous engagement.

In addition, with integration across various channels like SMS, Whatsapp, telephony, live chat, and social media, you can keep your customers posted on new business developments on whatever channel they use most.

The holiday season is the most wonderful but equally challenging time of the year for retailers jostling for the attention of consumers and their collective billions. In this season of gift-buying frenzy, there is immense competition amongst businesses to catch the attention of the overwhelmed, busy and distracted consumer. With the help of technology, savvy retailers can rise above the masses, meet the customer’s heightened expectations and boost their sales.

Raju Vegesna chief evangelist at Zoho.